There are few things more inspiring than a woman who recognizes her own power and individuality and wants to share them with the world.
Thank you to Treccy Marquardt-Thomas for being this woman—and the first to be featured in our Riverwest FemFest miniseries this week leading up to the Fest on January 21-24, 2016.
I’m Alysse’s roommate, Jessica. Alysse and I were at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee’s live FemFest music preview when we came up with the idea to do as many FemFest-focused interviews as we could the week of the event. Riverwest FemFest is Milwaukee’s four-day fundraiser and music festival “celebrating talented and strong women through music, art and poetry.” So tonight, I was honored to spend time with Treccy—a musician in both Mortgage Freeman and Ruth B8r Ginsburg—to talk about her music-making and kick off the series. Treccy is smart, warm and, like the rest of us, beyond excited for the weekend to get here.
PWP: After seeing FemFest expand from 19 bands in 2015 to 60 this year, how do you see FemFest growing from here? How do you think you will contribute to that growth as an artist?
TMT: Hopefully FemFest will become a city-wide thing, not just confined to the borders of Riverwest. Because I am in a hard rock band with five males and in another a band with six women, I think we will encourage that growth by sending the message that it doesn’t matter what kind of music you like or where you live in the city. You’ve seen Mortgage Freeman, or you’ve seen Ruth B8r—they both attract such different audiences.
PWP: What about the Riverwest music scene do you think is so inspiring to these artists? That they all happen to live in the same neighborhood? Or is it something about Milwaukee more broadly?
TMT: I think Riverwest is very representative of what we want to happen in this city: We want people of all different cultures and all different races to flock to Milwaukee and not characterize it as a gentrified, segregated place.
I think Riverwest is a great example of how millennials are tackling that issue and accepting people no matter what background they come from. I think that having Riverwest be the birthplace of something like FemFest is a great start to moving the city forward. Bridging the gap is what both my bands are about, that’s what FemFest is about, and that’s what this neighborhood is about, too.
PWP: What have you learned about yourself while making music in your two bands?
TMT: I’ve learned that I have a lot of power. One person has so much power, not necessarily over other things or other people, but over their lives and the things they partake in. They have the power to make a difference when it comes to other people.
PWP: Agreed! Hopefully your performances will show more women and aspiring artists in general that it’s possible to get on stage and share their stories, their passions. I remember reading in your B8r interview about encouraging more women to “sing out,” to really go after their musical dreams. What advice would you give to a woman who dreams of doing something similar?
TMT: It’s that old biblical piece of advice: “Treat your neighbors as you would want to be treated.” Always treat others with kindness. Be reflective. Keep an open mind and understand you’re going to be around different kinds of people. Only good things can come from that.
PWP: I love that. In all your work bringing activism into your music and staying creative day after day, what do you find most fulfilling?
TMT: Learning. Learning is the most fulfilling thing out of everything! Whether it be learning music or learning people. Learning and taking something away from the experiences I’ve had has been the best part about everything, helping me become a better musician, a better person, and a better professional.
PWP: And what’s something you’re particularly excited about at FemFest this weekend?
TMT: I’m honestly excited—I can’t stress it enough—to see so many people come from all over the city and the state. We have a lot of social/economic issues that are coming up in the United States, and I’m excited to touch on those issues on stage. I’m excited to have an influence on people and maybe teach them something from my perspective.
I’m also excited for FemFest because there aren’t many events that just celebrate women. As a black woman that works in environments that don’t have a lot of diversity, this is my one chance out of like three chances a year to be who I am and be around people that don’t fit the same profile I see at work and at school. I usually have to fight to be heard on student government or other groups. But here, I won’t have to fight. People are going to be there to hear us.
Kate’s coming up from Chicago this weekend for FemFest! Come join her, Alysse, me and a bunch of friends to see Treccy on stage Sunday night, January 24. She’s performing with Ruth B8r Ginsburg at 9:30pm at Company Brewing and with Mortgage Freeman at 11:15 pm at High Dive. See you there!
[Guest post by Jessica Guzmán. Photos by Kelly Marquardt.]